September 6, 2019 — by Dana Allin

One Measure of A Flourishing Church: Expects Disciple-Making

 When I talk to pastors or sessions and I hear about the challenges they face, I often hear things like, “our giving is down” or “we don’t have enough volunteers” or “we are getting pushback to our worship change”. It’s partly my personality and partly my training to want to dig beneath the surface of a presenting challenge. I have learned to ask the “why” question. “Why are people giving you so much pushback to worship change?”

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August 16, 2019 — by Dana Allin

Reflection on Trip to Manila, Philippines

In June, I accepted an invitation to be part of the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum (GWF) in Manila, Philippines. I had the privilege of attending with 800 other attendees from 170 countries. It was a memorable conference for a couple of specific reasons.  

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June 28, 2019 — by Dana Allin

What Does It Mean to Have a Livable Theology?

There are many aspects of our Reformed/Presbyterian tradition for which I am thankful. One aspect in particular is our focus on the life of the mind. We deeply value education, study, and wrestling with theological implications as we engage in present culture. There have certainly been weaknesses associated with this strength such as occasionally having an overly cerebral faith that doesn’t engage our heart and passion. Nevertheless, I am still thankful for the many benefits that come with valuing the mind.

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May 1, 2019 — by Dana Allin

Are You a Risk Taker?

I continue to find it helpful that we have identified and articulated the characteristics associated with being a flourishing church. As a reminder, the six elements have been a part of our conversations for several years, but in our vision framing process we were able to fine tune our language to help us have optimal clarity accessible to everyone (SEE HERE FOR VISION FRAME).

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April 5, 2019 — by Dana Allin

What does ECO’s Value “The Complete Local” Really Mean?

I continue to be grateful at the positive feedback we are getting around the vision frame that was presented at our 2019 National Gathering.  I certainly understand some of the questions that have arisen in response to vision frame, and those questions are usually easily addressed. The clear majority of what we hear is excitement at the clarity of language and the boldness of ECO’s direction.  

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March 5, 2019 — by Dana Allin

The Power of Clarifying Mission and Values

I was at a session meeting a few weeks ago with a church that had re-worked their values and mission within the last three years.  In the meeting I asked, “What are your mission and values?” I didn’t mean for it to be a trick question, however, only one person in the room could get close to naming the elements.  I don’t blame them! This lack of clarity happens more often than not. Congregations go through a process to develop good or even great statements. However, as time goes by, those statements are not even known by the people, let alone lived out in the life of the church.  

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February 11, 2019 — by Dana Allin

The Next Decade for ECO

Our 2019 ECO National Gathering has now come and gone! I loved getting to be with the almost 1000 pastors, lay leaders, staff members and covenant partners who came to Colorado Springs the last week in January.   One of the most encouraging parts of our movement to me is that we have so many people gather each year to learn, be encouraged, inspired, challenged, and to have fellowship with one another. I love that even in non-business meeting years we see congregations bring larger numbers from their staffs and congregations to help get everyone more broadly connected to ECO.

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January 4, 2019 — by Dana Allin

What is your Flourishing Next Step in 2019?

I have probably said this before in a January newsletter, but the new year is probably my favorite time of year. I always like to take some time between Christmas and New Year’s Day to think and pray about  my life and ministry. I love looking back at the past year and reflecting upon God’s call for the coming year.

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December 4, 2018 — by Dana Allin

What to Expect When You’re Expecting….a Church Plant

When my wife Beth was pregnant with our first child, Micah (who is now 14), we had a lot of people who loved, cared for, and supported us as we were preparing to be parents.  Everybody had opinions on how to take care of oneself during pregnancy as well as how to raise a child.

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November 2, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Reflecting our Communities: How Can We Be Better?

I continue to be both inspired and overwhelmed by the challenges and opportunities that stand before our movement.  There are some obvious issues that include working toward the revitalization of our churches, the ability of our churches to plant vibrant churches, and of course developing a greater quantity and quality of lay and vocational leaders who will be able to lead, plant, and revitalize these congregations.  Within these broad issues are some extremely important factors that need to be present.

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October 2, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Three Questions to Help You Take Your Flourishing Next Step

If you have been reading ECO newsletters or have been at a place where one of the ECO staff has given a presentation, you have probably heard the phrase, “Flourishing Next Step.”  The concept of Flourishing Next Step is that every church and every leader will identify where and how God is calling them to grow for greater flourishing. We do not dictate what that Flourishing Next Step is, but rather give tools and resources to help discern where God is uniquely calling you and your church to grow.

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July 3, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Reflecting on ECO's Engagement on Current Issues

It seems as if there is an ever-increasing number of statements being made by organizations, denominations and associations.  I am not sure if I am simply more aware of what is happening because of the nature of my denominational role, or if there is truly is an increase in these statements. Most recently was the outcry over the policy for the separation of families at the border.  During this situation, we received a few e-mails asking or encouraging ECO to make a statement against the policy. As time passed, the policy got reversed, perhaps due to the outcry. While there are still families that need to be reunited, the immediacy that was felt to make a statement has passed.

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June 5, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Connecting with the Global Church - Iranians in London

Last month, I had the privilege of traveling with The Outreach Foundation to learn about the Iranian church in London. The focus of the trip was on the diaspora church, meaning Iranians who left their home country, either voluntarily or involuntarily. We also learned about how God was working inside of the country of Iran through the underground house church movement, and in those outside of the country.

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May 2, 2018 — by Dana Allin

What Is Your Next Flourishing Step? Part II

One of my favorite promises of hope is found in Philippians 1:6. Paul writes, I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. I often hear this passage applied to individuals - that God has done a good work in each of us and will continue His mighty work in us. While this is certainly true, the context of the passage reminds us that Paul is giving this promise to the whole church of Philippi. As I have taught and used this passage in multiple venues, I have often been struck by two important truths that come from it.

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April 4, 2018 — by Dana Allin

What Is Your Next Flourishing Step?

I hope and pray that you all had a wonderful Lenten season and Easter Sunday celebration of the powerful impact of the Resurrection on our lives and in our churches. One of my favorite books in the Bible is Acts, with it’s great recounting of how the resurrection changed the whole trajectory, mission, and orientation of the disciples. Acts begins in the same way that the book of Matthew ends: A commission is given to the disciples who are going to be witnesses to every region and to every person in the world.  I can imagine the disciples who heard the words of Jesus were likely excited about the possibilities, and perhaps overwhelmed at the enormity of the task. I know if I had been a disciple in that room I would have asked, “Ok Jesus, so what is the next step I need to take?”

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March 6, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Being a Hero-Maker

I am just returning home from a week-long trip to Florida that served two purposes. One was to work with Mandarin Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, where Kevin Pound has been the senior pastor for 25 years. Over those years, the church has increased from an average worship attendance of less than 200 to 800 worshiping together on a Sunday. Now Kevin is preparing to retire. As a result of that impending change, the church is engaging in an intentional succession process to find a new senior pastor. I was working with the church and the PNC on that process to help determine what vision God has for them in the future, as well as helping to find the right new senior pastor to implement that vision.

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February 7, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Reflections on the National Gathering from Dana Allin

  Though several weeks have now passed, I am still so exhilarated from our National Gathering in Houston. It was a wonderful and long week, from preparing early at the venue to concluding with two days of coach training. Our fabulous staff deserves huge thanks, along with the gracious Houston churches who provided thousands of volunteer hours to make this event run smoothly. Allow me a moment to briefly reflect on three personal RENOVATE highlights that I hope we can continue to build upon in the future.

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January 3, 2018 — by Dana Allin

Polity in Place to Help our Congregations Flourish

In ECO, we have polity in place to help our congregations flourish. One of the parts of our polity that is often overlooked, states the following regarding presbytery duties:“The presbytery has the authority and pastoral responsibility to: Promote and encourage the missional effectiveness of its congregations. Each presbytery shall develop an instrument to assist its congregations in their annual review and narrative report of their ministry and mission. These annual reports shall be reviewed and discussed by the presbytery with each congregation’s session.” (3.0103 m.)

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December 4, 2017 — by Dana Allin

December Newsletter | A Word From Dana Allin

Confession time. For the first few years of my pastoral ministry I did not enjoy preaching during Advent. I have always liked to preach through a book in the Bible and felt as if Advent interrupted the book I was working through with my congregation. Plus, to have to preach four weeks AND Christmas Eve on concepts all relating to the preparation for and birth of Jesus was challenging to keep fresh and new, year after year. I knew it was powerful that God became flesh in Jesus, but in my evangelical mindset, the power of the incarnation was primarily utilitarian because it was necessary for the ultimate substitutionary atonement of our sins.

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November 7, 2017 — by Dana Allin

November Newsletter | A Word From Dana Allin

What Do We Mean by Evangelical? - Last year I was at a meeting for all of the denominational leaders who are part of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). We met right after the election. As a result, there was significant dialogue about how the words evangelical and evangelicals have had negative associations.

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September 29, 2017 — by Dana Allin

October Newsletter | A Word From Dana Allin

When discerning the types of resources that we desire to provide for our congregations (either through direct development or in partnership with others), we have used a framework in our discernment process that asks a few key questions.

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August 31, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Entering into the Messiness

After the resurrection, Jesus returns to His disciples. He calms their fears and then commissions them by saying, “As the father sent me, so I am sending you”  (John 20:21). What has struck me recently about this passage is that just prior to commissioning the disciples, Jesus shows them the wounds in His hands and His side...the results of being sent into the world! Jesus was incarnated into the messiness of the world by being born in a stable, He ministered in the messiness of the world, and He died by the cruelty of the world. After all of that, Jesus says, “AS the Father sent me, so I am SENDING YOU.” We are sent into the messiness, and sometimes even the cruelty of the world, to show the tangible love and mercy of Jesus.

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July 28, 2017 — by Dana Allin

July Newsletter | A Word From Dana Allin

It has been exciting to see that over fifty churches are officially participating in the Becoming a Flourishing Church material.  We know that some churches are using the materials with their sessions but have not officially signed up, and others will begin to use the material in the fall. A few churches are using the material with their entire congregations to help increase the strength of individual discipleship as well as to get wider input into the health of their congregations. We have even had some churches who are not in ECO indicate that they are using the material for their sessions.

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July 11, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Reflections from the 2017 WCRC General Council

A few weeks ago, along with Jen Haddox and John Terech, I had the privilege of representing ECO at the General Council meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in Leipzig, Germany.  The General Council meets every 7 years and consists of delegates from 220 member churches from around the world.  ECO became a member of the WCRC in 2013 with the endorsement from the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), who were already members.

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June 2, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Raising the Bar | "Flourishing Leaders"

Many people have commented about how ECO seeks to create an environment that continues to raise the bar on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. There are many ways that this environment is encouraged within ECO congregations and presbyteries. One of the ways that I am thrilled to watch unfold among our churches is the hunger to have lay leaders flourish in their various and diverse ministries.

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April 6, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Dana Allin's April Newsletter Article

I am thrilled with the number of churches who are utilizing the “Becoming a Flourishing Church” series that is available on our website. The feedback has been very positive as many leaders wrestle with the question of what is next for their congregations as they seek to truly flourish. My only concern are the leaders who say, “Our church is only going to do the last two sessions related to being a flourishing church.

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February 22, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Catalyzing The Flourishing Of Churches

It was so wonderful to be with our ECO family in Greenville, South Carolina at the end of January.  What a great week we had worshiping together, engaging with encouraging speakers, and connecting with friends and colleagues!

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January 10, 2017 — by Dana Allin

Looking Forward In 2017

I was recently re-reading Les McKeown’s book Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track and Keeping it There.  He talks about the life stages of a startup organization.   The initial stage is called “Early Struggle” and it is about the challenges that an organization faces in getting off the ground.  

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